Toronto, ON –While child care workers and early childhood educators are being recognized today on Child Care Workers and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day by dozens of municipalities and school boards across Ontario, “we want our provincial government to take note that families and communities depend on high quality programs. Care standards should not be diluted and access to more regulated child care should be a priority for the province,” says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
Today, October 29 marks the 14th year of the awareness day which recognizes the education, skills, commitment and dedication of early childhood educators and child care staff. Part of that dedication, says Athina Basiliadis, an Ottawa child care worker, includes the commitment to keeping children safer and resisting the push by some who are opposed to higher levels of government scrutiny and regulatory standards.
Increasingly in Ontario, families are driven to use unlicensed providers because of the lack of affordable, regulated child care in public and non-profit centres. Following the deaths of several toddlers and babies, Ontario’s Ombudsman investigated. Earlier this month he released a report on unlicensed child care and made 113 recommendations to keep children safer. The report also highlights the importance of licensed child care spaces where health, safety, and programming rules and are subject to regular inspection.
Too many children – some 823,000 –the Ombudsman says are left in unregulated, often overcrowded care. Although unlicensed providers are limited to five children, in the home where a 9-month old baby died nearly a year ago, there were 12 children registered.
“What’s clear to us is that the province must commit to expand quality, regulated child care. They must stop the closures of public municipal child care centres and they must stay the course and legislate higher standards for home daycares,” says Basiliadis.
The provincial government has reintroduced Bill 143 – The Child Care Modernization Act that would increase oversight of unlicensed providers. However part of the Bill would also permit licensed home providers to take on one additional child, a change the government says would create 6000 new spaces.
While CUPE Ontario has no problem with tougher laws for unregulated providers “we are not in support of changes to child care legislation that would increase the number of children that licensed home daycare providers can have from five to six,” says Basiliadis. “This is not the way to increase child care access. Expanding spaces in public and non-profit regulated centres is.”
She urged Ontario’s Premier and education minister to celebrate the contributions of child care staff and early childhood educators “on our provincial recognition day by heeding our call to expand regulated, quality care.”
For more information please contact:
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications 416-559-9300